A-Rod redemption

It’s been a surreal year for Alex Rodriguez. It began with disgrace, as he joined the club of major league players implicated in the never-ending steroids scandal. He was never a fan favorites in New York, and now he had sunk to a new low. His reputation would be forever tarnished.

Yet after watching A-Rod’s postseason performance so far, this may be the best thing that ever happened to him. Last night, A-Rod rose to the occasion again to provide a dramatic home run to save the day for the Yankees in Game 2.

• To be honest, for all his remarkable numbers, A-Rod has never inspired legend quite like a Williams or Ruth, a Bonds or a Mantle. Yet through five postseason games, he now has three home runs that have either tied or put the Yankees ahead. One off Joe Nathan and another off Brian Fuentes, two pretty darn good closers, too. Here’s the reaction from The LoHud Yankees Blog:

• His story of exorcising October demons has almost become old hat. Four times he has been asked the same questions and four times he has continued to repeat what he said in St. Pete. “I know you guys are probably looking for something profound. I’m just in a good place. I’m seeing the ball and I’m hitting it. That’s about it.” Rodriguez now has an RBI in each of the first five postseason games, setting a new Yankee record. Here’s audio from Rodriguez:

• Burnett said he, Phil Hughes, Phil Coke and Joba Chamberlain were in the clubhouse watching the 11th inning unfold. People would never believe the scene they made after Rodriguez hit the tying homer. “We were like little kids,” Burnett said, “jumping around and hugging.”

• In the dugout, Mark Teixeira couldn’t fathom that Rodriguez had done it. Again. “I just kept yelling, ‘He did it again! He did it again!” Teixeira said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

It’s amazing what a great athlete can do when he just focuses on the job at hand. A-Rod has admitted to being so self-absorbed that he put tremendous pressure on himself. The scandal seems to have forced A-Rod to grow up and develop a more mature approach to the game. If he keeps this up and the Yankees win the World Series, this will be one of the fastest and most dramatic image turnarounds we’ve ever seen in sports.

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A-Rod passes Jackson on all-time HR list

Mr. April has officially passed Mr. October on baseball’s all-time home run list.

Alex Rodriguez hit home run No. 564 to help the Yankees beat the Mets 9-1 on Friday night, moving past Reggie Jackson into 11th place on the career list.

“The negativity that surrounds the steroids is certainly not something that I carry over to him,” Jackson said. “I do appreciate the fact that he admitted his mistakes, so from here we move forward. Judgment on him will be passed with the next 7 1/2 years of his time with the Yankees.”

Jackson was sixth when he retired in 1987, trailing only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Harmon Killebrew. He’s since been passed by Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and A-Rod.

“You get used to it really,” Jackson said.

Remember when A-Rod was supposed to save us all from Barry Bonds and “legitimize” the home run record again?

Moments like Rodriguez hitting his 564th mean very little now. Maybe Griffey will keep playing until he’s 80 and pass everyone.

Whitlock: Serena Roberts has credibility issues

In Jason Whitlock’s latest column for FOXSports.com, he writes that author Serena Roberts has credibility issues stemming from a column she wrote about the Duke lacrosse rape case and calls her new book about Alex Rodriguez a “celebrity-gossip book.”

During her interview with Jim Rome, she claimed she went into her investigation of Rodriguez believing he had never used steroids. She said that A-Rod’s interview on 60 Minutes convinced her of his innocence. “I didn’t think he was dirty,” Roberts said. “I thought he was clean.”
This is nearly impossible for me to believe. Roberts is a cynic, at least she is in her column writing. When she worked for The New York Times, she wrote numerous columns about A-Rod with the same theme: Rodriguez is a phony. Read this, this and this and then read this blog for examples of her A-Rod cynicism.

In those columns, does she come off like someone who would take Rodriguez at his word? She comes off like someone who doesn’t believe a word that comes out of A-Rod’s mouth.
What I’m about to write is pure speculation.

Selena Roberts believes America is a safe haven for sexism (I happen to agree, but that’s beside the point). She wanted the Duke lacrosse players to be shining examples of how deep-rooted and protected our sexism is, and she was more than willing to ignore their innocence to make her point (this repulses me).

Selena Roberts believes professional sports — the money, fame and power they primarily give young men — are corrosive of good values and a haven for sexism (I happen to agree, but that’s beside the point). She wants Alex Rodriguez to stand as a shining example of what’s wrong with American sports, and she just might be willing to ignore flattering truths about A-Rod and publish hearsay and gossip to make her point (and this is unfair).

She’s written a celebrity-gossip book, “A-Rod: Game of Innuendo.” Maybe you despise Rodriguez so much that you don’t care about her methods and whether the rest of the alleged mainstream media characterize her work properly.

Whitlock brings up a good point that we must question what an author’s motives are for writing a non-fiction book, especially when the content matter essentially attacks a person’s character as in this case. Is Roberts trying to uncover the truth behind A-Rod’s use of steroids or does she have a personal agenda as Whitlock suggests?

A-Rod to be back by April?

Yankees’ third basemen Alex Rodriguez was able to take a couple of light swings on Sunday for the first time since his hip surgery and is now eyeing an April return to the lineup.

Alex RodriguezThe Yankees believe A-Rod could be back in their lineup in mid-May. When Rodriguez initially elected to have surgery, his return was projected in 6-9 weeks, meaning he could also be back as soon as late April. Long said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Rodriguez returned at the end of April or early May.

Long said he planned to see Rodriguez in Tampa when the Yankees are in St. Petersburg, April13-15, to play the Rays. At that point, A-Rod likely will be doing his rehab workouts at the Yanks’ minor-league complex near Steinbrenner Field, the Daily News reported.

All HGH jokes/allegations aside, A-Rod has always been a fast healer so this news shouldn’t surprise anyone. But the Yankees should still be cautious with his return. You don’t want to rush him onto the field only to have him suffer a setback and have to return to the DL.

Also, the sooner he comes back, the sooner the media frenzy starts again in terms of his performance-enhancing drug use. And allegations will certainly fly about his quick recovery from hip surgery if he does come back as early as April.

Are the Yankees better off without A-Rod?

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.com writes that there is no way the Bronx Bombers are better off without A-Rod in the lineup.

The Yankees need him — badly. They can find a stopgap at third base and patch together a lineup while he misses the first part of the season. But if Rodriguez does not return from hip surgery as the A-Rod of old — or something close to it — then the team will be in trouble.

Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Bobby Abreu — all posted on-base percentages of .370 or better last season while combining for 87 homers and 299 RBIs. Giambi and Abreu left as free agents. Rodriguez is now questionable. Mark Teixeira cannot replace all three.

The offense already had offensive issues; the Yankees finished only seventh in the American League in runs last season. Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui are coming off surgeries. Either Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera will likely be a below-average producer in center field. And Teixeira, for all his gifts, is a .259 career hitter in April.

The Yankees should be far better at run prevention now that they’ve added CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to their starting rotation, and the return of a healthy Rodriguez in May would make them reasonably whole.

But no one should assume that Rodriguez will simply return to his normal level of production, not when he will require further surgery at the end of the season.

Anyone who thinks the Yanks will be better without A-Rod is dreaming. Their pitching staff has dramatically improved over last year’s staff, but it’s hard to replace a bat like A-Rod’s (he hit .302 last year with 35 dingers and 103 RBI) with Cody Ransom, even with guys like Teixeira, Posada and Jeter in the lineup.

Maybe the clubhouse will be free of distraction without Rodriguez present, but the current Yankee players will still have to field questions about A-Rod’s absence and his steroid issues no matter what. Granted, those questions should fade after a while, but Rodriguez will return at some point and then the circus will start up again.

The bottom line is that the Yanks need A-Rod’s bat if they want to compete with the Red Sox, Rays and Angels this year in the AL.

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